Aggressive Care Still the Norm for Dying Older Patients

By Alvin Tran of Kaiser Health News Although federal data show that fewer Medicare beneficiaries are dying in hospitals, new research suggests that doesn’t mean they’re getting less aggressive care in their final days. Researchers at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University and others reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association Tuesday that even as deaths in acute hospitals declined between 2000 and 2009, the use of intensive care units in the final 30 days …

The Undoing of a Hospice – A Sign of Things to Come?

By Randy Dotinga for Kaiser Health News SAN DIEGO – Death sometimes came slowly at one of the nation’s largest and most respected hospices. That’s not unusual. But here’s a twist: For some patients, it came not at all. While hospices normally treat patients with fewer than six months to live, San Diego Hospice often served people who had much more time left. Not anymore. In the wake of an ongoing federal audit and an internal investigation, the nonprofit hospice’s …

Hospice Rules May Keep Away Patients, Study Finds

By Jordan Rau, Senior Correspondent, Kaiser Health News Nearly four out of five hospices have enrollment policies that keep away patients with potentially high-cost medical needs, such as palliative chemotherapy and intravenous feeding tubes, according to a new study. Hospice is one of the fastest growing segments of Medicare, and many health policy experts laud it as a humane and cheaper way to care for people in the last half-year of life. But in surveying hospices, the new study warns …

The Takeaway: Weekend Edition

So … what exactly happens if the government shuts down? If the White House and congressional Republicans can’t come to an agreement, we’ll find out. Right now a temporary resolution is funding the government. That’s set to expire next Friday. What it means for you. ALSO – Why can’t we all get along? Thanks to my colleague Mike Lee for spotlighting a very interesting debate between Gen Xers and Boomers in Philadelphia Magazine. The “old people,” Gen Xers say, are, …

The Takeaway: How Much Is Life Worth?

Imagine you were suffering from a terminal illness and a treatment could boost your immune system to help fight the disease. The drug would not be a cure, may extend your life by about 4 months and costs $93,000 per patient. Would you take it?